Belly fat (visceral) is the most dangerous fat for our health. Researchers have found that added sugar is the main culprit when it comes to belly fat. In particular, sugar-sweetened drinks (juices, luxury coffee drinks, sodas, etc.) play a major role in the accumulation of belly fat.
When choosing post-workout shakes and protein bars, make sure you don’t consume too much sugar.
Stick to the basics
In general, the best ways to lose body fat are to stick to the basics – a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine.
If you don’t see results, try changing your workout routine and using some new strategies to challenge your muscles.
The Biggest Mistakes When Losing Body Fat
Don't limit your food and calorie intake too much – too few calories when you train hard can break down both muscle and fat. Don't sabotage your workouts by eating the wrong foods, especially sugar. Remember that losing fat and keeping it off can take time. Fad diets that promise rapid fat loss are usually not sustainable in the long run and can be harmful to your health.
What is the recommended body fat percentage?
The body fat percentage is a way to measure the amount of fat mass versus lean mass and track your progress. The following percentage recommendations are based on the American Council on Exercise:
Category Women Men
Essential Fat 10-15% 2-5%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% 18-24%
Obesity > 32% > 25%
What are the best ways to measure body fat?
There are several ways to measure body fat. The most accurate may require extensive equipment such as underwater weighing and air displacement measurements. These are often reserved for research institutions and can be extremely accurate.
You have several options for home measurements. You can invest in a tool that helps measure bioelectrical impedance based on how fast an electrical current (that you don’t feel) travels from one side of your body to the other.
Lean mass contains much more water, making it transfer faster – fat mass has less water and causes the flow to move more slowly. You can buy handheld BIA tools or a scale that performs a similar measurement.
Two other options for measuring at home are taking simple body measurements. You can use body fat callipers, which you use on three different body parts to squeeze the skin and enter an equation to calculate the body fat percentage. The other at-home option is a simple tape measure — you can track the size of the waist, hips, biceps, and thighs.
Although less accurate, you can easily perform these methods yourself.
Message to take home
There are many strategies for fat loss, but it’s best to stick to the basics. A healthy diet with adequate protein, soluble fibre, and limited sugars can aid weight loss, along with a weight-lifting workout routine (to increase and maintain muscle mass) and varied cardio (ideally a combination of LISS and HIIT). By following these tips, you can not only lose fat but also keep your body healthy.
Extra exercise helps
Exercise and sports will help burn calories. But not alone. Exercise can also help you cope better with temptations. For example, research has been done on overweight people who walked for 15 minutes. Subsequently, it turned out that the group that went for a walk felt less urge to eat chocolate than the group that did not go for a walk.
In addition, there is support that when inactive people start exercising more, they can better match their energy intake to their energy expenditure . This effect mainly occurred with moderately intensive exercise, such as walking, cycling or light cardio.
It is still unclear what exactly the explanations are for this. But this may have to do with, among other things, that you are better able to deal with temptations, and your body is more sensitive to notice whether you have eaten enough.
The best choice is for both strength training and cardio.
What is the best training method to lose weight?
The best method to lose weight is to combine a lower energy intake with exercise. Incidentally, there is a difference in the intensity of the sport and the health benefits you achieve with it. I explain it with an example:
Situation 1: Suppose Jan sits still a lot and needs 2100 calories a day. His goal is to lose weight. He has chosen to lower his energy intake to 1700 kcal.
Situation 2: or couple, the same Jan has, partly thanks to his sports and exercise activities
In both situations, Jan takes 400 calories a day less than he needs. But probably in situation two, he will lose more fat mass. The theory is that exercise combined with less food ensures that you lose that fat layer faster, provided you are in a negative energy balance. Recent research shows that more exercise and sport combined with less food is the most effective way to burn fat mass.
Make sure that you eat enough protein to maintain your muscle mass as much as possible. You need more protein if you exercise more. This is especially true if you do strength training.